But some of the same things we do to be vested leads us down the path of no return: the path to burning out. Over time, the energy and enthusiasm that pushes us through the extra rehearsals, extra concerts, and community events lead us to become warn out, feel like quitting, or even worse, takes a toll on our personal lives, and even our health.
Here are 18 important tips to prevent teacher burnout!
1. Don’t overextend yourself
More hours does not create better results. We should meet the requirements of our job and focus on impacting the students within the job description. Additional rehearsals, weekend performances, and other unpaid activities should be minimized. Should these added opportunities significantly improve the ensemble, we should choose carefully and try to empower the students to perform without us whenever possible.
2. Empower our student officers
This requires a lot more than just having officers. It involves choosing the correct students who are mutually respected by students and the director; we must empower them to complete all tasks that are not necessary for us to do.
3. Change with the seasons
Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring should breed different energy into our ensemble. It’s not just about the songs we program, it’s about changing the way in which we direct our energy. Change the focus, change the approach, change the seating, etc. A minimum of four clear changes a year will keep our program interesting to the students, and to us.
4. Foster group discussions
Engage students in deep discussions about text, shape, the composer, the poet, the concert, the importance of the class for each member, what singing means to them; these discussions, when properly employed by us, will invigorate our understanding of why we do what we do.
Star-Spangled Banner (SAB – A-Cappella) – Easy-to-Learn, Classic Style, and Highly Impressive – .20 per copy!
5. Participate in positive facebook choral forums
Join groups that offer positive suggestions/feedback, and share with choral directors and music educators around the world. Pose questions, discuss repertoire, and share with the entire choral community. At the same token, we should try to disengage from groups that shoot down ideas and bully.
6. Have and maintain outside hobbies
Teaching music cannot be our only source of joy. Living life in balance is important.
7. Take care of our health
Eat well, exercise, sleep. It’s easier to say than to do. If we don’t feel well, everyone loses out.
Being an artist will help us to explore music firsthand. Our joy of music-making will enrich our students and remind us why we do what we do. This includes taking lessons and furthering our performance growth.
9. Observe other inspiring teachers
Watching other teachers can inspire us with new ideas and approaches in the classroom. Great teaching transfers between discipline, so visit that masterful Spanish teacher or anyone who is passionate within their out craft.
10. Run efficient rehearsals
Maximizing rehearsals will keep our job interesting and will prevent the need to add-on to our schedule. If we don’t have enough time to accomplish what we want to accomplish, we must either program less or be more efficient.
11. Don’t take things personally
Poor student behavior or lack of focus usually has nothing to do with us. Students have bad days and we cannot allow ourselves to be personally affected by their attitude. We also cannot think every decision made by our administration, guidance counselors, or other outside entities are intended to hurt us. Sometimes their goals and our goals don’t gel; they may not understand how their choices impact us. While we may need to have difficult conversations from time to time, we should try to not take these things personally.
12. Be a team player
We are one small part of the larger school community. We must work together toward a common goal. We are not more important than any other class, nor are we less important. We need to support one another instead of fight for what is ours. When we are in fight mode, we tire ourselves out.
13. Find ways to make them work harder…..not us
Successful teachers focus on student learning, not on teaching. Set high expectations that foster learning and motivate students to want to learn.
14. Have purpose to everything we do
Every activity, lecture, or song selection must have purpose and value. Any additional concert, evening or weekend event must feel important. Without purpose, all parties lose energy.
Sight-Singing for the Non-Sight-Singers! – a simple system
15. Always eat lunch – but not always in the teacher’s room
We must not give up our lunch time to help students. It is our time, and we must use it to regroup, nourish, and be adults. While interacting with other teachers is so important, the teacher’s cafeteria can be full of negative energy. We should eat with other teachers while choosing our dining partners wisely.
16. Step away from the building
The outside air can quickly help to put our job in perspective. Sometimes our entire world feels like it’s inside our classroom, but walking outside reminds us that it is much greater.
17. Set personal teaching goals
When we create new goals each semester, or each year, we can provide exciting challenges for ourselves. Perhaps it’s a major work we want to tackle. Maybe it’s getting our choir to learn a piece using solfeggio without us ever touching the piano. Maybe it’s teaching a gospel song completely by rote. Setting personal/professional goals will keep us motivated.
18. Redefine our teaching philosophy
Every successful company has a mission statement. We must continually redefine or recommit to what our underlying philosophy is. Every decision we make must be related to that philosophy. By staying aligned with both our professional AND personal goals, we will make smart, effective, and healthy decisions that will keep us from burning out!